Do you know anyone with cancer?
Or anyone in remission after cancer?
How do they cope ? How do you cope?
Cancer does affect all of us – even if it does not affect our own body cells directly, it does affect our minds, our hearts, our feelings when someone close to us is suffering from this nasty desease or is in remission after cancer treatment.
What I hate about cancer is that even when it seems to be gone, you can never be sure. It always sits in the back of your mind, it always hides deep in your heart. Every follow up test, every follow up visit to the doctor brings back the fear of recurrence, no matter how deep it might have been hidden. Every phone call from the hospital after all those never-ending tests makes your heart skip a beat.
Tips for Coping With Fear of Recurrence
from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Accept fears. It is common to experience some fear about cancer recurring. Telling yourself not to worry or criticizing yourself for being afraid won’t make these feelings go away. It may also help to remember that the fear usually lessens over time, and that you won’t always feel so anxious. Be aware that your anxiety may temporarily increase at certain times, such as before follow-up care appointments, around the anniversary date of your diagnosis, or if a friend is diagnosed with cancer.
Don’t worry alone. Talking about your fears and feelings can help reduce your anxiety. Talking and thinking about your concerns can help you explore the issues underlying your fear. Fear of recurrence might include fear of having to repeat cancer treatment, losing control of your life, facing death, or losing someone close to you.
Be well informed. Most cancers have a predictable pattern of recurrence. Although a doctor cannot tell exactly what will happen, an oncologist will be able to give specific information about whether the cancer might recur and what symptoms to look for. Knowing what to expect can help you stop worrying that every ache or pain means cancer is back.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep helps you feel better physically and emotionally. Doctors do not know why cancer recurs in some people and not in others, but avoiding unhealthy habits, like smoking and excessive drinking, may help reduce the risk of recurrence.
Reduce stress. Finding ways to lower your stress will help lower your overall level of anxiety. Experiment with different ways of reducing stress to find out what works best for you.
- Spend time with family and friends
- Spend time on hobbies and other activities you enjoy
- Take a walk, meditate, or enjoy a bath
- Exercise regularly
- Find time for humor—read a funny book or watch a funny movie
- Avoid unnecessary stress—don’t take on unnecessary responsibilities or commit yourself to tasks you don’t have time for
- Simplify your life
Cancer makes us look at life a bit differently. Some things that were important no longer seem as important as they were. Let’s try to enjoy every new day we have. 🙂